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MITA CHAKRABORTI

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 4/15/2017 |




SONGSOPTOK INTERVIEW
FACES AND FACETS OF GLOBALIZATION

 “Globalization is the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas and mutual sharing, and other aspects of culture” (Wikipedia)


SONGSOPTOK:  What are you views about globalization? In the country and the society you live in, is globalization a threat or an opportunity?

MITA CHAKRABORTI: In general globalization presents increased opportunities for people in terms of access to knowledge, technology and financial resources. At the same time because of the increased inter connectedness of economies and financial markets, it presents a risk to both economies and people. In the US, the popularity of Donald Trump as a Presidential candidate is a signal of increased resentment among people (especially middle class) as they fear that may be losing out to other countries (e.g. China and India) in terms of economic progress, jobs etc. because of globalization.


SONGSOPTOK:  To what extent is the society you live in is globalized? What are the outward manifestations, if any, in the everyday lives of the citizens?

MITA CHAKRABORTI: Yes, we live in a highly globalized society today. It is reflected in the availability of variety of goods and services and communication (e.g internet) among people. At the same time happenings in one part of the world have immediate repercussions in other parts of the world (global financial crises, terrorism etc.)


SONGSOPTOK:  In your opinion, has the process of globalization improved the quality of life in your country? In what way?

MITA CHAKRABORTI:   Globalization has improved the quality of life mainly in terms of availability of variety of reasonably priced products in the market, job opportunities (e.g. call centers in India) and investments. At the same time it has resulted in loss of jobs for some segments of the population (factory workers in the US) as production centers including factories have become increasingly mobile.


SONGSOPTOK:  One of the major effects of globalization is the significant increase in the volume of trade and monetary transactions between the different nations. Do you think that your country has benefited from this? In what way?

MITA CHAKRABORTI: Yes, globalization has increased both the flow of commodities (goods and services) and financial services.  Many countries including the US have benefited immensely from the growing market opportunities in developing countries. At the same time increase in the volume of trade and monetary transactions also has exposed countries to risks from a global economic meltdowns.


SONGSOPTOK:  Do you think that globalization serve to make the already strong economies even stronger and weaker economies weaker and more dependent? Can you give us a few examples to illustrate your answer?

MITA CHAKRABORTI: Not necessarily. All countries have become interdependent on each other because of globalization and therefore we cannot say that weaker economies have become weaker and stronger economies stronger. The recent global financial crisis impacted all the countries equally. But within countries there is a risk that globalization could make the rich richer and poor poorer in the absence of appropriate redistributive policies.


SONGSOPTOK:  What, according to you, is the role played by the major multinational companies in of globalization? Do you think that the entire process was actually put in motion by the large MNC’s for their personal profits or do you think that there has been a trickle-down effect to the economy of your country?

MITA CHAKRABORTI: The multinational companies took advantage of globalization by locating their production centers closest to availability of cheap resources (both capital and labor). To that extent they were motivated by profits.  There has been a trickledown effect in terms of generation of new jobs and reduction in global poverty. But at the same time, the full benefits of globalization will happen only with better governance and redistributive policies.


SONGSOPTOK:  Many economists claim that globalization is a major factor for disseminating knowledge and technology across continents and borders within a very short time. Do you support this view? Has your country benefited from this? Can you give us some examples?

MITA CHAKRABORTI:  Indeed. One of the biggest benefits of globalization has been the dissemination of knowledge and technology across countries.  The US has benefited enormously by taking advantage of availability of cheap and skilled labor from countries like India. India benefited because of creation of a lot of new jobs and availability of technology. There are still certain areas where Intellectual Property Rights is an issue in terms of technology transfer.


SONGSOPTOK:  Do you think that globalization actually breeds a homogenous culture? What, if any, has been the effect of globalization in the cultural sphere of your country? In your opinion, has it been positive or negative?

MITA CHAKRABORTI: Yes, in terms of availability of cuisine and acceptance of varied culture (e.g. Holi is now a common event across US campuses).  Chinese, Thai or Indian cuisine is no longer a novelty in the US just like Chicken tikka is UK’s national dish. It is too early to say if the effect is positive or negative. The recent anti-migrant political rhetoric in the US and Europe seems to suggest that there may be a limit to this homogeneity.


SONGSOPTOK:  What, in your opinion, is the impact of globalization on environment? Do you think that the capitalistic growth model used by the large multinationals have a negative effect on the environment? In what way?

MITA CHAKRABORTI: Globalization has indeed adversely impacted the environment. Increased production and flow of goods has resulted in increased pollution and depletion of natural resources. At the same time globalization has also facilitated increased flow of cleaner and cheaper technology across countries. It is hard to say if multinationals are responsible for the negative effect on environment. It may indeed be the case if they relocated from countries with stricter environmental policies to countries with laxer environmental policies. On the other hand, if multinationals follow same (high) environmental standards everywhere it would actually benefit the environment. 


SONGSOPTOK:  Is it possible to imagine a world today with an alternative mode of production and consumption? Is it at all necessary? If so, will you share your ideas with us? How can we, as ordinary citizens, contribute to such a model?

MITA CHAKRABORTI: There is no turning back from globalization. But we can move towards managed globalization where the benefits are adequately redistributed within and across countries. This calls for improved governance and public policy. There should be adequate checks and balances in the international trade and financial systems to prevent frequent contagion. Environmental regulations need to be strengthened. Pro-poor policies should be designed in such a way to take advantage of globalization.

MITA CHAKRABORTI: Has moved to the USA in 1990 and completed her Ph.D (Economics) from Cornell University. She has been living in Greater Washington DC since 1996, previously working as an Economist at the IMF and now at the World Bank. She also teaches International Development as an Adjunct Professor at the George Washington University. 

We sincerely thank you for your time and hope we shall have your continued support.
Aparajita Sen

(Editor: Songsoptok)

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